Greetings from the Island of Cyprus!

Yiasas! It’s been a while, friends. I’ve actually been out of the States, going on many a foodie excursion almost daily here in Cyprus. Ever since I was little, spending my lunches in my Yia Yia’s kitchen sampling her delicious home cooking, I have always had fond foodie memories of Cyprus. These childhood memories have truly formed my love for cooking (and tasting!), so I will try to share as many as I can with you from my vacation this summer.

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My Professional Chef Lesson of the Day: How to make a Sachet d’Epices

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As some of you who are closely following may recall, I posted a very excited entry a couple of weeks ago about the arrival of a very treasured UPS delivery: my Professional Chef textbook! My plan was to read a chapter, then post what I learned on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Weeeeelll, after reading the first five chapters and realizing there wasn’t much I could really post on in those intro chapters, I finally stumbled upon something worth posting that I think you, reader, will find useful and interesting! In my first ever post chronicling my tacking of this giant textbook, I present to you: How to make a sachet d’Epices! A sachet d’Epices is just a fancy French name for a pouch made of cheesecloth containing herbs and spices of your choice, intended to infuse flavor into a broth without the “mess” of putting the spices directly into the broth or sauce. The flavor will be more subtle as well. Think of it as a light kiss of flavor rather than a full-blown punch in your taste buds. The following recipe is my recipe that I used to flavor the broth for a beef roast, but you can modify to whatever you are cooking, and get creative with it. You could add ginger, a cinnamon stick, mustard seed, carrot, etc.  Play around and see what you can come up with! I tried quite a few sachets after reading this chapter, and I WILL say, some turned out amazing like the following recipe, and others, well, not so great. The trick is to experiment and see what works, and what doesn’t!

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Happy Hump Day Review of the Week: Emporium Pies | Dallas, TX

ImageImageImageImageIt was a warm and balmy night in Bishop Arts. We had just finished yet another satisfying meal at our beloved restaurant, Oddfellows (of which a proper review will be posted soon). In the distance, a lone saxophone pierced through the sounds of happy hipsters and fluttering families. The night was young and full of promise, so we decided to amble with the crowd and explore the sights and sounds of our new ‘hood. Continue reading

One Pot Monday Presents: My Very Crabby Little Crab Cakes

ImageHappy Monday after Fourth of July weekend everyone! Hopefully everyone had a super fun yet safe weekend and ate plenty of hotdogs and pie! For today’s post, and in keeping with my light and refreshing theme (which will probably not last for much longer), I’ve decided to post my famous crab cakes recipe. I’ve tried numerous crab cakes at restaurants all over the land, and I believe that what really makes the delicious ones stand out from the not-so-delicious ones is the use of fresh, real crab meat, and a high crab to bread crumb ratio. These have the freshest ingredients, and the use of home-made bread crumbs just contributes to that home-made flavor. Another plus? I bake them in the oven rather than frying them up in a pan, so they are actually really healthy as well.  Who doesn’t love a good crabby cake in July?!

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One-Pot Monday Presents: Tuna and Beans and Squash, Oh My!

ImageImageImageHappy boiling hot Monday everybody! I don’t know about how it is where you live, but here in Dallas, Texas, it’s freaking HOT!! Leather-car-seat-causing-second-degree-burns-on-your-poor-exposed-legs-hot.  Stay-inside-with-your-head-permanently-glued-to-the-inside-of-your-fridge-hot. So-hot-you-could-kill-for-a-one-way-ticket-to-the-North-Pole-or-somewhere-equally-as-gloriously-cold-hot…Well, you get the gist of our agony down here. So, with the record highs the past few days literally scorching my desire to eat anything too heavy or, for that matter, anything above room temp, I thought it was high time to make my go-to hot weather meal: Tuna “salad” with squash and beans. This is actually a tinkered-with adaptation of a meal we would have at my grandmother’s house in Cyprus on a weekly basis. As she didn’t have AC, this was one of my favorite meals to eat on those hot summer days. I have added my own personal twist to it with green onions, delicious cherry tomatoes, and my bright, lemony dressing, but the heart of the meal is the same.  The best part? Not only is it filling and absolutely delicious, it’s super cost effective as well.  Until these temps start dropping, I may be eating this meal multiple times a week! Enjoy, and STAY COOL FOLKS!!

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One-Pot Monday presents: Mama D’s Mushroom Risotto

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This risotto is one of my favorite one-pot meals to make, because it’s SO EASY, and you would never guess that there weren’t a million steps involved to create such flavors.  Whenever I go out to a new fancy restaurant and spot a mushroom risotto dish on the menu, I always have to compare it to my mom’s version. And, usually, it never really matches her simple, yet satisfying version. It can very well serve as a stand-alone meal with a little simple side salad, or it’s a really great side dish to serve with a main course. One thing to keep in mind when you are cooking with very few ingredients is that the ingredients have to speak for themselves and really shine, so the fresher and more high quality the ingredients, the better your end product will be! That being said, I’ve even brought this dish to a Pot Luck or two, and gotten rave reviews…Mama D really nailed it with this one!

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Arrival of The Professional Chef

Isn’t it so fun when that shiny new package arrives at your doorstep that you’ve been “patiently” waiting for? Today I was greeted by the not-so-smiley-on-account-of-our-scary-looking-dogs delivery man with my highly anticipated delivery. What might I be so excited about that I practically ripped the package right out of his dog-fearing hands you ask? Check it out:

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Yep. It’s a copy of The Professional Chef, the “bible” of the Culinary Institute. Continue reading

Return of the One-Pot Monday: Creamy Rice w/ SPICY Mushroom Shrimp Sauce

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It’s BAAAACKK!!!

I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve missed me some One-Pot Monday meals!

I’m kicking off the inauguration of the re-birth of the One-Pot Mondays with this fun, delicious, and New Orleans- themed Shrimp dish.

Who doesn’t love shrimp (aka skrimps)? Who doesn’t love mushrooms (or may I dare say… ‘shrooms)? Who doesn’t love some fatty, yummy cream sauce? So that’s the *thinking* behind this dish. That and some inspiration brought to you courtesy of a recent voodoo filled vacay in NOLA right after our wedding. The sauce has just the right balance of kick and subdued creamy luxury. Give it a shot, you will love it. I can almost hear Marie Laveau licking her lips in agreement…

 

Serves 4-6 people/ difficulty: easy

You’ll need:

-1 lb shrimp

-6-8 small pickled red tomatoes (regular grape tomatoes are OK if you can’t find pickled tomatoes, but there are some great ones available at www.WilliamsSonoma.com)

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 ½ cups wild rice

– 1 cup wild mushrooms, cleaned and diced

-3 cups vegetable or chicken stock

-1 tsp paprika

-1 tsp fresh thyme

– ½ tsp oregano

– ½ tsp crushed red pepper

-salt and pepper to taste

– ¼ cup heavy cream

– ¼ cup sherry wine

 

-small handful of finely minced parsley, and sliced lemon, for garnish

 

In a large pot, sauté the garlic, shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spices for 5 minutes on medium heat. 

Add sherry and stock, bring to a boil, then add the wild rice 

Cook for 7 minutes, then add the cream, and cook until the rice is fully cooked, about 5- 7 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with slices of lemon and parsley for garnish.

 

 

Gorgeous & Delicious: Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

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I know, I know… it’s been waaay to long since I’ve blogged any recipes. The truth is, Andy and I had a magical, wonderful whirlwind wedding weekend. (Try saying that three times fast).  We had family and friends fly in from all over the world to celebrate. The whole weekend was brimming with such a positive, happy energy, it’s carried over to real life. Yay!! But now, it’s back to the blog, and this week, I wanted to post something special. After a week of literally eating giant slices of wedding cake multiple times a day, I knew it was time to put down the cake fork and get back on the healthy track. I’m not one to normally take notice of the negative effects of too much sugar and gluten, but after eating so much cake, my body has definitely revolted, leaving me feeling ill and craving all things nutritious and healthful. But who’s to say healthy can’t still be yummy and sweet-tooth satisfying? After doing quite a bit of research online, I came up with my own perfect recipe for a no-bake, gluten free, chocolate peanut butter dessert that’s so decadent you would NEVER guess that its-SURPRISE!!!- healthy!! The bananas work really well as a binding ingredient for the bottom “dough” base, and are a perfect, creamy swap to butter. I didn’t go the extra step and buy vegan chocolate, but if you substitute vegan chocolate for the chocolate here, you will have a delicious VEGAN dessert as well! Just make sure to refrigerate at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight, so that it will firm up. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.  You can cut them into large, desert-style pieces, or little tiny bite-sized snackable squares . However you slice them, I promise you will LUURVE them! Man it feels good to be back in the kitchen….

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Easy Shiitake Asparagus Couscous

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Hello beautiful. It’s been a while. With the wedding almost two weeks away now, and moving to a new house THIS weekend!!!, I haven’t had much time for blogging. However, I DID receive this gorgeous food photography book from some sweet friends for my birthday, and I can’t wait to utilize its techniques for this blog after the wedding. Once everything is settled and the wedding is over, I look forward to blogging multiple times a week again. For now, I wanted to post a quick and easy recipe for just these times in your life, when cooking may seem like the last thing you even have time for, but know you can’t eat out every night of the week. My shiitake and asparagus couscous is a great side dish, but can also work as a main with a little side salad. You could add a little grilled chicken in the mix as well. My recipes are all about giving you ideas on what to make for dinner, where you can make your own adaptations or versions. This is what I refer to my stack of cookbooks for: inspiration. On that note, I hope this recipe inspires you, and I promise I will post a LOT more in a couple of weeks after all this excitement 🙂 Have a wonderful Tuesday!!

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